Colombo, Sri Lanka – Senior officials from the Governments of the United States and Sri Lanka met today to continue their trade dialogue and evaluate progress under the United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The officials discussed a wide range of trade and investment issues including market access, the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), labor, trade promotion efforts, intellectual property rights, agriculture, promoting women entrepreneurs, and sector-specific investment challenges. Progress on all of these trade and investment issues fosters economic growth, thus providing a strong foundation for inclusive economic development.
The meeting marks the 10th session of the U.S.-Sri Lanka TIFA Council. The U.S.-Sri Lanka TIFA, signed in 2002, has been the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries. The TIFA process has been the focal point of a sustained and multi-faceted high-level engagement between the United States and Sri Lanka on trade and investment issues, including addressing impediments to greater trade and investment flows between the two countries. Sri Lanka is currently the 80th largest goods trading partner of the United States with $2.4 billion in two-way goods trade in 2011. Sri Lanka was the United States’ 114th largest goods export market in 2011. U.S. goods exports to Sri Lanka were $307 million, up 71.7 percent ($128 million) from 2010. Sri Lanka’s exports to the United States were worth approximately $2 billion demonstrating a growth of 20 percent over 2010.
The United States and Sri Lanka agreed to establish a number of TIFA Committees to continue work throughout the year on several important bilateral trade and investment issues. The new TIFA Committees created cover intellectual property, customs cooperation, and labor affairs. The United States and Sri Lanka also agreed to continue discussions on the possibility of establishing a committee on the empowerment of women entrepreneurs.
Senior officials discussed a range of labor-related matters, including Sri Lanka’s progress in addressing issues raised pursuant to the 2010 GSP review and an International Labor Organization technical assistance project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. The labor affairs committee will provide a forum for continuing dialogue and collaboration on labor issues of mutual interest.
U.S. officials will participate in Sri Lanka’s Expo 2012 from March 28-30 in Colombo. This is the first exposition for Sri Lanka’s exporters and industries since 1997. There will be a number of events and programs focusing on U.S.-Sri Lanka bilateral trade and investment issues, including an opening address on U.S.-Sri Lanka trade and investment cooperation, and a presentation on the U.S. GSP program for private sector participants at the Expo.